Polygamous Sect Leader Wanted by the FBI for Fraud Arrested Near Sioux Falls

Lyle Jeffs is the brother of Warren Jeffs, who made national headlines as a leader of the same polygamous sect. Lyle has been on the run since 2016. Reporter Jack Eble from our sister station, KDLT in Sioux Falls reports

SIOUX FALLS, SD — An FBI most wanted polygamous sect leader is now in custody in South Dakota.

Lyle Jeffs, who has been on the run for nearly a year, was arrested by FBI agents and Yankton County authorities.

“We received a tip from the public on June 13th on someone matching his description,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart.

Lyle Jeffs, once considered a leader of a controversial polygamous sect in Utah had been on the run since last year.

That is, until he ended up in Yankton.

An off duty detective with the police department spotted a Ford pick-up truck with Utah plates they were looking for.

“Down near the marina near Yankton,” said Barnhart. “He saw that vehicle, called in for back-up. Back-up arrived and a felony car stop was conducted and Mr. Jeffs was taken into custody.”

Yankton County authorities say Jeffs was using the restroom at the marina before he was pulled over.

The sect, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has a compound in Pringle, South Dakota.

But the FBI believes Jeffs was cut off from the group and was living out of his car.

He fled Salt Lake City, Utah while on home confinement, awaiting trial on an alleged multi-million dollar food stamp fraud scheme.

“When you flee a federal indictment, the long of the arm will eventually catch up to you,” said U.S. Attorney of Utah, John Huber.

Jeffs was granted release from jail last June, despite Utah prosecutors arguing he’d be a flight risk.

“I do not anticipate Mr. Jeffs will be afforded this privilege again,” added Huber.

Jeffs’ brother, Warren, was convicted of multiple sexual abuse charges and is serving a life sentence in Texas.

A former member of Jeffs’ sect reacted to the news of Lyle’s arrest to our sister station in Salt Lake City.

“I’m happy that it’s coming to a conclusion now that he, like Warren, will begin to stop hurting people,” said Ross Chatwin. “I believe Lyle was just as bad, if not worse, than Warren was about destroying people’s lives.”

Jeffs waived his right for an identity and detention hearing in South Dakota, putting him in custody with the U.S. Marshals until he returns to Utah.

Ten others were charged with Jeffs in the food stamp fraud scheme back in February of last year.

Nine of them accepted plea deals and on had his charges dismissed.

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